Miliband, the Mail and antisemitism, some points arising

Robin Richardson

Image © CC-BY

Antisemitism, it has often been said, is a light sleeper. Sometimes, though, and in certain places and circumstances, it slumbers for quite a long time, and is not immediately or widely recognisable when it wakes up. For whilst dormant it was taking on new tones and colourings, was acquiring a new repertoire of signals and cues, new nods and winks, it was fashioning new dog whistles. Those who give voice to it when it wakes after a longish sleep may not be consciously aware of what they are doing, or of the effect their words, references and imagery have on others. Read more of this post

Book Review: Ignorant Yobs? – the education and training of ‘low attainers’

Robin Richardson

Copyright NSiKander 28s photostream

What is to be done, asks Sally Tomlinson, about low attainers? The question refers to about a fifth of the children and young people in countries such as the UK, Germany and the United Sates and refers not only to education and training systems but also to social, political and economic policies. It is also, clearly, a moral question.

Polite and apparently objective alternatives to the term ‘low attainers’ include or have included less able, backward, retarded, slow learners, below average, special needs. Terms which are rather less polite and neutral appear daily in the media and in middle-class conversations – yobs, chavs, feckless, lazy, plebs, underclass, dull, thick, shirkers, scroungers. Either way the language is pejorative, and the attitudes are at best paternalistic and patronising and at worst fearful, demonising and punitive.

What to do about low attainers has been a question for western governments at least since the start of compulsory education some 150 years ago. When unskilled or semi-skilled work in agriculture or manufacturing was readily available, the answers were not too difficult to find. Now that such jobs have declined or disappeared in western countries, and that enterprises operate in global not national contexts, the answers are much more elusive. Sally Tomlinson explores the difficulties and dilemmas with regard to five countries in particular – Finland, Germany, Malta, United Kingdom and United States. Her analysis and conclusions are relevant for a wide range of countries, not for these five only. Read more of this post

Ed Miliband Leader of the Left?

Nora Connolly 

Ed Miliband on the mic

Copyright archived Department of Energy

Ed Miliband is the leader of the Left, a revelation made recently in a broadcast with BBC/Independent journalist Steve Richards. Although, Miliband appears more interested in identifying himself with Conservative politicians, concepts and with Mrs Thatcher`s legacy – obsequiously describing her as a conviction politician. In his early thirties we discover that Miliband`s summer reading was Iain Macleod’s biography, Ed Milibands`s `One Nation` agenda clearly has had a longer gestation period than cynics might have thought. The Disraeli citation highlighted in the broadcast was further evidence that the philosophical underpinning of Miliband`s big idea is a Conservative/reactionary one. The only left-winger mentioned during the programme was Ralph Miliband, the father of the Labour leader, a brilliant Marxist thinker who sadly died in 1994.

Miliband`s position was considered analogous to Mrs Thatcher`s period in opposition, a correlation that allowed for a comparison with Miliband by Charles Moore. Richards returned to Thatcher`s legacy indicating that she developed a strong populist message, a political outsider who produced a critique of the former government led by Ted Heath in which she served. A politician who overturned the Keynesian post-war consensus, whose populist message was based on the notion that the state needed to get off peoples backs.  Read more of this post

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